Be the Change You Want to See in Your People
“They just don’t get it. It’s not that hard to figure out.”
“I keep solving the same thing over and over again with them.”
“Why do they make it so hard to learn and change things?”
Sound familiar to you as a leader when talking to your people? (Probably sounds familiar to you as a parent when talking to your kids too!)
I’ve heard a lot of company leaders utter these same things over my years in the training/coaching/consulting industry.
The more leaders say this, the more I see them become frustrated with their people. The frustration comes from solving the same problems for their people again and again. The frustration also comes from them feeling that their people do not step up and get things done. Nothing can get done without their involvement and their “stamp of approval.” In worst cases, they see their business slow or stall in growth and they end up either firing employees or they see them leave.
But why is this happening? As a leader, you spend a lot of time, money, and effort hiring people that have the experience and background you’re looking for to fill a role and seem to be a great fit for your company. You think you have done all the right things and they seem like a perfect fit and then bam – it’s not working out.
Before you go pointing fingers at other people, let’s make sure you’re not throwing rocks while living in a glass house. (My grandmother used to say that to me a lot as a kid – never understood it until later in life.)
Is it really your people, or is it really you?
Time to take a long, hard look in the mirror.
In my experience, more times than not, these challenges leaders are facing has more to do with themselves than just with their people.
Could it be you’re continually solving your people’s problems for them because, “It’s faster if I do it” or, “It’s my job to show them how it’s done” or, “They can’t do it like I do it and it’s just not as good.”? Or maybe you do this because it makes you feel good and show them how smart or important you are?
This pattern is called “learned helplessness”. You are not teaching them or helping them improve, you’re doing it for them. Once they know you’ll keep solving the problems and figuring out things for them, they’ll keep coming back to you to do it. You’re creating the loop and the problem.
Make them figure out what the real problems are and what they need to do to solve them by asking questions that guide them to the answers. Have them set specific actions to solve the problems with deadlines and hold them accountable to getting them done.
Could it be that you don’t want to see them struggle and run into challenges, especially the ones you have experienced in your career? So, in order to avoid this happening, you don’t put them in the tough situations where they may struggle and ultimately learn and improve. You think you’re helping them, but you’re really enabling them to not grow and improve.
Find the tough situations where your people can grow and put them in these situations. Let them struggle and learn. Be there to debrief and coach after the struggles and failures so that they learn and improve.
Could it be that you’re hiring people that look great on paper, sound great in an interview, would “fit in with the team so great”, but ultimately don’t have the necessary skills and experience and won’t perform to goals and expectations?
Get help to put together a strong hiring process that not only looks for cultural fit but also skill and experience fit. Use objective evaluation tools that help you determine who really has the skills and experience and who talks a good game. Be more skeptical in interviews. Develop a strong onboarding plan that helps new people ramp up into the job requirements and company culture quicker.
Could it be you’re telling your people that they need to learn and grow, but you’re not doing that for yourself because you’re too busy, wearing too many hats, have too much to get too, already have a lot of skills and experience?
Don’t be a hypocrite. As Gandhi put it – “Be the change you want to see in others.” Eat your own dog food.
If you want to see your people learn and grow, and your company do the same, it starts with you. Take responsibility, stop making excuses, and lead by example.